Washington, Jefferson and Margaret Thatcher: 3 Scoops of Ice Cream Political History
We’re in the belly of summer now and that means that into our belly goes sweet, delicious ice cream. The origin of crème glacé (French) gelato (Italian) are murky and riddled with apocryphal stories. Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and Catherine de Medici all have skin in the historical game—Catherine perhaps bringing it to France when she married into the French royal family in the mid 16th Century.
Around the 18th century, in what we will call an organic cross pollination between the Italians and the French, modern ice cream—that is frozen cream churned into a smooth, scoopable texture—became a popular treat for the wealthy.
George Washington’s Sweet Wooden Tooth
America’s first president didn’t just love ice cream, he was seriously obsessed with it. Whether or not that lead to his wooden dentures, or the ice cream was an ideal treat for someone with wooden dentures, history doesn’t say, but what we do know is that he spent an inordinate amount of money on the stuff.
Thomas Jefferson’s Recipe
Jefferson perhaps first had the dessert when in Paris, or maybe at George’s house. No one really knows. He did however keep multiple ice houses and Monticello and perfected his own recipe which survives today.
Margaret Thatcher Invented Soft Serve?!
Post World War II, a new invention called soft serve was invented simultaneously by Carvel and McCullough (a.k.a. Dairy Queen). The Brits also were getting into the soft serve game and before she went into politics, a young Oxford chemistry student named Margaret Richards worked for a brief spot at the Lyons company where legend has it that she devised the first soft serve. Later, she would be nicknamed, “The Iron Lady of Soft Serve.”
This New Yorker article debunks this bizarre story. She did work on soft serve, but she by no means invented it. She didn’t even start work at the company until years after Mr Softee was prowling American streets. Why does the story linger? The New Yorker poses one hypothesis:
“An oft-told anecdote in British left circles associates Thatcher with the invention of soft ice cream, which added air, lowered quality and raised profits.” In other words, it wasn’t Thatcher’s supporters who spread the soft-serve myth; it was the left-wingers, who saw in it a suitable metaphor for her policies.”
The left screams; the right screams; we all scream for ice cream! Get yours at Virgin Island Ice Cream Company!